A PENTRE Maelor man is raising the history of Wrexham's adopted ship, HMS Veteran, from the depths of time.
John Lawton, 63, has spent 20 years trying to get recognition for the destroyer and her crew and has written a book with the working title, HMS Veteran - Detailing the Ship's History.
John's quest began on a visit to Wrexham's old rent office in 1986 when he came across a plaque on the wall dedicated to HMS Veteran.
The ship was adopted by the people of Wrexham in December 1941 during National Warship week.
The ship's adoption contributed to the war effort, as members of the public donated £366,000 through Post Office savings certificates.
This figure roughly translates to £9m in today's money, and it's even more staggering to think it was raised in just a week by the people of Wrexham. The cash went towards paying for new Second World War ships.
John became determined to find out more about the ill-fated destroyer, whose history had been largely forgotten.
When John contacted the Admiralty he was even asked: 'Why do you want to research that old heap of junk?'
But John says that made him even more determined to see his research through.
HMS Veteran, a modified destroyer, was built in 1919. She spent more than 20 years of her service in the Mediterranean and Far East before being laid up in reserve in 1937.
She was commissioned for war in 1939, spending much of her time on escort duty, apart from taking part in the Norwegian campaign where she stood alongside 'fireships' which were intended to be sent to burn German ships.
In September 1941, HMS Veteran sank U207 before being refitted and sent to Canada to escort convoys up the Eastern Seaboard of America and out into the Atlantic, where they were met by the Mid-Ocean Escort and taken across to the UK.
Research for the book has taken John all over the world. He has visited Caledonia, Nova Scotia, where the ship's crew were sent on leave in May 1942.
He formed a friendship with the Rev Linda Kuschnik, who has sent John photographs of crew members and the friends they made on leave in Caledonia.
On September 26, 1942, HMS Veteran was to make her last voyage. She was part of a convoy named RB1 formed to bring American River Steamers over to the UK. At the time crews of the ships were told they were to be used as accommodation and hospital ships, but, as John uncovered decades later, they were actually used as a decoy convoy in order to give safer passage to troop-ships crossing the Atlantic, in preparation for the North Africa Landings.
HMS Veteran came under heavy fire and was sunk with the loss of 240 lives.
John's researches even took him to visit Otto Von Bulow, commander of U-Boat 404 which sunk HMS Veteran. Through his links with Otto, John has been made a member of the U-Boat Old Comrades' Association.
He has also been made a member of the United Sates Naval Institute at Annapolis due to the time HMS Veteran spent in America and the fact that an American volunteer doctor was on board the ship.
Families of the crew of HMS Veteran and the merchant sailors who were lost were never officially told what had happened, other than receiving a brief letter from the Admiralty.
And it was not until 1990 that John himself explained to surviving loved ones what had actually occurred.
Last June John held a memorial service to the ship in the Old Royal Naval College, in Greenwich, London, which he hopes to repeat this year.
The rough draft of John's book is currently in New York being proofed.
He has not, as yet, secured a publisher, but anyone who may be interested in publishing his book can contact John on 01978 661055.